How Rickie and Rory inspired Matthew Wolff to pursue a career as a Tour pro

Matthew Wolff’s star is on the rise. The 21-year-old won the 2019 NCAA Division I championship and his first PGA Tour event in the same year. Since then, he’s also finished as runner-up to Bryson DeChambeau at the 2020 U.S. Open and amassed over $5.6 million in earnings.

Wolff joined Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz on this week’s episode of Subpar to discuss his ascendant career and offer an insider’s perspective on what life is like as a young PGA Tour pro. One notable perk: The chance to befriend your former idols. For Wolff, one of those people is fellow Oklahoma State alum Rickie Fowler.

“Rickie’s awesome. He’s been probably one of the best mentors that I could ask for,” Wolff told Knost and Stoltz. “He keeps everything super light, he gives me advice. I moved down to Florida as soon as I was done with school and he kind of took me under his wing.”

Like Fowler, Wolff turned pro before graduating from OSU — and the school has Fowler to thank for helping recruit such a talented player.

matt wolff smiles
Inside Matthew Wolff and George Gankas’ ‘secret language’
By: James Colgan

“[Rickie is] definitely a factor, why I went [to Oklahoma State],” Wolff said. “The coach is really good at [OSU]. Obviously Karsten Creek, having your own facility is pretty special. But yeah, I’d say he was definitely a big part just because I looked up to him. Him and Rory [McIlroy] were kind of the two guys that I looked up to. And obviously Rory didn’t go to college.

“I always looked up to Tiger. But Tiger was like — kind of when I really got into golf, when I was like 13, 14, 15 and started playing in these bigger events and like, really being like, all right, I can like, do something with this game, that’s when Tiger was not playing and stuff,” Wolff continued. “So when I really got into it, that’s when Rickie and Rory were out being the best players in the world. And so, I was like, I kind of want to be like that guy. He kind of inspired me. I saw how many people have been to Oklahoma State and how many people have made it successfully though that program and been on the PGA Tour, and I was like, I don’t know if I’m gonna make it, but I’ll damn sure give myself a good chance.”

It seems safe to say that Wolff, now ranked No. 14 in the world, made the right decision. For more from Wolff, including his breakdown of coach George Gankas’ secret language, check out the full interview below.

Jessica Marksbury

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on